Monday, November 29, 2010

Call for Posts

The Cancer Research Blog Carnival is coming up this Friday, December 3 and we want your blog posts. Submit your cancer science blogging here or email us at the address in the sidebar, then stay tuned this Friday for the latest edition.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Costs of Cancer Treatment

Something to think about from a Slate book review, via Thus Spake Zuska:
Provenge has shown some success against advanced prostate cancer. But it also costs about $93,000. Gleevec can cost $4,500 per month. Revlimid, another cutting-edge treatment for multiple myeloma, can cost $10,000 per month. It's hard to see how these prices might come down when the market consists of patients increasingly fragmented not only by type of cancer but even by types of mutation.
Or course this isn't a call for 'silver bullet' treatments; cancer isn't just one disease. But the economics can be tricky. Simple supply and demand suggests that market fragmentation and personalized medicine will only drive prices up and split research dollars. It isn't quite so simple, though. Most personalized medicines will be built on common technologies which could even have the opposite effect - higher demand for core technology, modified on a case-by-case basis. Still, looking at the above costs of cancer treatment, I'm glad to live in a country with universal health care.


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Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh, Lately it's so Quiet

It's been pretty quiet in these parts lately, but that doesn't mean we aren't busy cooking up science elsewhere. Over at the Stem Cell Network blog I have a few new posts up, mostly about iPS cells, and there are plenty more interesting posts from other bloggers as well.

Elsewhere, there's some interesting food blogging at Casaubon's Book asking "Is the local food movement elitist", as well as at Tomorrow's Table where the author discusses GE crops and sustainability.

Finally, Scicurious and PZ Myers both highlight some science porn: MRIs of women having orgasms.

Hopefully those links will tide people over while I work on some new Bayblab content. It may be quiet around here, but we haven't gone anywhere.


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Friday, November 05, 2010

Cancer Carnival #39

This month is Movember, the annual prostate cancer fundraising and awareness campaign involving men showing off their (mutton) chops and growing some fine facial hair. Read more about Movember here, and if you'd like to donate but don't know a participant, why not throw a few bucks at this effort and tell him the Bayblab sent you (full disclosure: he's my brother). In Canada, prostate cancer is the number one most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, with an estimated 24,600 new cases and 4,300 deaths in 2010. November is also Lung Cancer Awareness month, the number one cancer killer among both men and women, accounting for more cancer deaths than the next three cancers (colorectal, breast and prostate) combined. (Statistics according to the Canadian Cancer Society).

With that in mind, it's also time for the latest edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival. It's a short one this month - remember that the carnival depends on submissions from readers, so be sure to submit your posts for next month.

First off, last month's host Highlight HEALTH sends us news of a campaign to end breast cancer by 2020, the first initiative of which is to develop a breast cancer vaccine.
Key to this strategy and the challenge for researchers will be the identification of molecular mechanisms shared among the various breast cancer subtypes that cause the disease. A breast cancer vaccine may be closer than you think. A report in Nature Medicine earlier this year reported an experimental vaccine that prevented breast cancer in mouse models.
The National Breast Cancer Coalition has done more than just set an arbitrary deadline - January 1, 2020 - but has outlined a plan to get there. Read more about the efforts at Highlight HEALTH.

Here at the Bayblab, I take a look a paper that explores what it means to be "cancer literate" and what kind of public education is needed for a cancer literate public.
[T]he authors assembled a panel of cancer experts (oncologists, GPs, nurses from oncology wards, social workers, public health experts) who refined the answer over a number of rounds. For their purposes, literacy was "the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions."
While there are some obvious answers, there are also some surprises as to what is included and excluded from a definition of cancer literacy.

Elsewhere, Christie at Observations of a Nerd debunks the myth that sharks don't get cancer.
There are a lot of myths out there about the marine world, but by far the one that bothers me the most is the notion that sharks don't get cancer. This simply untrue statement has led to the slaughter of millions of sharks via the industry for shark cartilage pills, which are sold to desperate cancer patients under the false pretense that they can help reduce or cure their illness.
Meanwhile, Orac also takes a look "alternative" cancer therapy as he describes "Yet another cancer cure testimonial that tells us nothing".

Finally, White Coat Underground has a post up about sulforaphane-rich vegetables (eg. broccoli), cancer prevention and how to properly evaluate risk.
The other day, I took issue with a press release published on another website. It was titled, Discovery may help scientists boost broccoli’s cancer-fighting power, which I found to by hyperbolic and deceptive. The actual study being reported regarded the ability of certain compounds found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli to be absorbed from the cecums of rats. I dismissed the entire piece as being unsupportive of its ambitious headline.
Read the whole post for a more detailed look at some aspects of the broccoli-cancer connection, and important tips on how to critically read the medical literature.

That's it for this month's Cancer Research Blog Carnival. For older editions, visit the Carnival Homepage. Don't forget, the CRBC has subscription options; you can follow by email or RSS feed. An aggregated feed of credible, rotating health and medicine blog carnivals is also available. For a broader collection of science-related blog carnivals, sign up for the Science, Medicine, Environment and Nature Blog Carnival Twitter Feed.


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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Starving Student Cookbook

If you've ever been an undergrad accidentally turning your food budget into your booze budget, or tried to scrape by on a grad student stipend, you've probably had a share of unglamorous meals while making ends meet - possibly surviving on Mr. Noodle for weeks at a time (or, if you believe my dad's undergrad stories, spam). For the past while, Scicurious at Neurotic Physiology has been soliciting recipes from grad students, with an emphasis on affordability for those on a shoestring budget, and put them together in The Grad Student Eating in Style Carnival.

There are plenty of great recipes there, whether a grad student or not, so take a look and you might find some new supper (or breakfast, or lunch) ideas.

And yes, there is a Ramen category.


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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Update your CPR.

I recently obtained recertification for my level one cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). I had previously had level three certification in 2003. Things have changed. CPR is simpler and therefore more effective in the majority of cases since first responders will be less hesitant to initiate this potentially life saving procedure. The counting has become greatly simplified and the establishment of a clear airway has also been simplified. More recently the American Heart Association is recommending that the standard be simplified further to completely eliminate mouth-to-mouth.


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